Dramatis Personae Prologue
The Sea
Chapter 1 Chapter 2
Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5
The Land
Chapter 6 Chapter 7
Chapter 8
And All the Shores Between
Chapter 9 Chapter 10
Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Epilogue Pagination

The Elder Age
Height of the Jacaruku Crusades

The Many IslesEdit

A fisherman named Uli is out before dawn preparing his nets for the day's fishing. It is 119,739 years before Burn's Sleep and Uli notices a blue-green smudge in the sky to the east. Throughout the morning's fishing the object in the sky gets bigger and brighter as it gets closer. Soon the great object breaks into shards filling the sky with blinding light and deafening noise. One shard hits the big island to the east while the others fall to ground in the west.

Unnerved, Uli starts to head for home when the water disappears from the bay. He is momentarily distracted by the bounty of fish lying in the muddy shallows before noticing a towering wave coming rapidly towards him from the sea. He prays for his children to run.

The Crippled God has come to the Malazan world.

Approx. 400 years BW (Before the Wall)

The Empty IslesEdit

Temal and his war band lie exhausted in the surf as night falls. They have just fought a skirmish with the Stormriders, but the sea-demons have mysteriously withdrawn. The band's less than twenty survivors gather around a bonfire on the beach and prepare to repel the next assault. Temal thinks of how far his forebears had to travel before they found a land as promising as this one. He and his clan will not give it up. His lieutenant Jhenhelf sets a watch so that the others may sleep.

Temal is woken by Jhenhelf shortly before dawn. He directs Temal's attention to a giant figure looking down upon the camp from the sea cliffs. Temal takes Otten and Will to investigate. The stranger is more than twice the height of a man, with skin like a dead fish covered in sores. It is The Lady, the goddess of the islands. She welcomes them to the land and offers her protection from the Stormriders. All that Tamel must do in return is take the sarcophagus that lies at her feet, which contains a piece of her flesh, and trace a path along the coast. Then build a great wall and defend it against their enemies from the sea.

Every day Temal's people lose ground to the Riders. He has no choice but to kneel and accept the offer. The Lady declares a covenant has been made, let no one undo it. Then she departs. Temal sends Otten and Will to gather his men and bring back wood and rope to drag away the warm glittering block of black stone.

Korelri year 4156 SW (Since the Wall)
Year 11 of the Malazan Occupation
Kingdom of Rool

Island of FistEdit

Lieutenant Karien'el of the Banith City Watch leads newly installed Assessor Bakune to a woman's body lying at the edge of the breakwater under the city's wharf. The woman is young, nude, and partially scavenged by crabs. Nearby is Gheven, the old man who discovered and reported her body. Bakune questions the old man who Bakune accurately identifies as a Drenn tribesman. Gheven suggests that such a death could usually be attributed to a local father or brother angry that a woman has dishonoured her family and taken up with one of the Malazan invaders. He is interrupted and loudly cursed out by Lieutenant Karien'el who says the murder must be the work of a Malazan. Bakune calms the lieutenant and begs Gheven to continue. The old tribesman points out a tattoo of the Crippled God on the corpse and marks on her neck and wrists. He observes that it has been a long time since the Lady has demanded her payment. The lieutenant explodes once again at this new blasphemy, and Bakune grows angry. He thanks the old man for his assistance and leaves the water's edge. He orders the lieutenant not to harm the tribesman and to notify him of similar murders or disappearances. "There may be a monster among us."

Bakune walks away thinking how much he hates the chill, the smell, and the wet of the coast. He hopes for a promotion that would take him to Paliss at the same time he mulls over Gheven's suspicions.

Nearby, Gheven watches the Assessor depart. He is on pilgrimage, walking his ancient land, the land his people occupied before the arrival of the builders of the Stormwall, and the land which is their Warren. He pities Bakune's apparent sincerity in seeking the truth. Truthtellers are never welcome.

Korelri year 4176 SW
Year 31 of the Malazan Occupation
Kingdom of Rool

Island of FistEdit

A small launch arrives in Banith harbour on the island of Fist and ties up at the commercial dock. Its sole occupant is accosted by an excise officer who demands he remove the vessel. Instead the squat, powerful looking man passes ownership of the craft to an old man cleaning the dock, even giving him a copper coin for his trouble. As the man heads into town he is troubled by the presence of Malazan soldiers who have occupied the region for several decades.

He stops at an empty shop front and engages with a group of young street toughs standing outside. They demand all his money, which he gladly offers up since he has none. He enquires about the shop and is told the previous owners have been imprisoned over debts to their Malazan overlords. Then the man with the faded boar's head tattoo begins to proselytize for his god of the poor, sick, and dispossessed. His is the god of which all others are but mere faces, including the Lady. Disquieted by the sacrilege, the toughs move off with the exception of a girl of mixed Malazan-Fist blood who complains that the priests of the Lady turn away half-bloods. The man assures her his god is open to all before turning to occupy the shop.

The next day, he sits in the shop's doorway greeting passersby. A patrol of six Malazan soldiers makes its way up the street collecting protection money from the shopkeepers and freely sampling their wares. They stop before the man asking what a priest of Fener is doing in Banith. The man assures them that although he is a priest, he no longer follows the Boar god. When the sergeant fails to squeeze any money out of the itinerant he attempts to move him along with his truncheon. The priest catches the club in his bare hand, pulls it from the sergeant's grip, and snaps it across his knee. The sergeant stops his squad from drawing their swords, but warns the priest that they will expect payment in the future or he might find himself on the Wall.

Once they depart, the priest thinks that things in Banith are worse than he expected. But, with a wide grin, he notes that a browbeaten and oppressed population makes for fertile ground.

First year of the rule of Emperor Mallick Rel 'The Merciful'
(Year 1167 Burn's Sleep)

City of Delanss, Falar SubcontinentEdit

Kyle, native of Bael and former Crimson Guardsman, sits across from his friend Greymane. The Malazan renegade has opened a fighting academy under his birth name Orjin Samarr in Delanss. Set in a courtyard well appointed with weapons and armour, it has everything it needs except students. And Greymane's poor finances reflect this. Delanss is known for its prestigious fighting schools, and so an academy run by an unknown Malazan veteran of dubious character is a hard sell. Kyle thinks it ironic that if Greymane's true identity was known then students would flock to his school, but his identity must remain hidden because he is a hunted man. Meanwhile, the Lost brothers who had accompanied them from Quon Tali proved ill-suited to teaching and have left by ship for the west and the Crimson Guard Brethren Stoop has faded away.

Kyle and Greymane's meal is interrupted by the arrival of a richly dressed Delanss nobleman. He is considering sending his son to the school and wants to learn more about its owner. Greymane provides his carefully worded background and quotes a very steep price for lessons. The man says he must consider the arrangement and departs. Kyle is about to leave as well when three young men arrive to speak to the academy's owner. As Greymane introduces himself they draw swords and attack. Kyle watches as Greymane handles all three with his staff, even at one point carrying one of the men as he fights. After the three are drummed out, Kyle observes to a winded Greymane that he is not in the best of shape, which wins him no favors.

Outside the school, the three toughs meet with the Delanss noble. The noble is sure that Greymane is the one they are looking for and orders the three to keep watch on the school while he sends word. The noble is impressed with Greymane's control in putting the three down without major injury in the face of "almost intolerable insult."

Thickton, Stratem SubcontinentEdit

Kuhn Eshen, captain of the Rich Tidings, drops anchor offshore from Thickton. He has come to find out whether the rumours that Stratem is once more open to outsiders are true. He soon makes contact with the town's merchant agents who come aboard the ship to discuss the trade of Styggian liqueur and bolts of Jass broadcloth for local hardwoods, tanned hides, and furs. Kuhn also pushes for information regarding local government and news that might be valuable to his government and mercantile contacts.

He notes a woman with military bearing watching the proceedings, but she does not join the conversation until he begins regaling the agents with tales of the Stormwall. She introduces herself as Janeth, representative of the province's governor, and insists on trading information on a tit-for-tat basis. But Janeth pales when Kuhn speaks of Bars, the Wall's mighty new champion. She quickly departs from the boat and makes for shore. An intrigued Kuhn decides to stay, and one of the agents recommends they meet at a local brothel that night. inwardly, Kuhn sneers at any attractions this backwater can offer.

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